Emergency care providers (ECPs) have a physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding profession. Therefore, they are predisposed to cardiovascular and other non-communicable disease risk factors.
The objective of the study was to determine the physical health status of ECPs in the North West province of South Africa through a selected anthropometric and other health parameter test battery.
Ninety-one ECPs (64 males, 27 females) took part in the study voluntarily for health screening tests including body mass index (BMI), lean body mass (LBM), resting heart rate (RHR), blood pressure (BP), skinfold measurement, waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), fasting blood glucose (FBG), and total cholesterol (TC). The collected data were subjected to statistical analysis using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 25 (IBM).
The participants demonstrated a mean BMI of 28.2 ± 5.5 kg/m2, body fat of 26 ± 7.6 %, and LBM of 58.6 ± 10 kg. Significant differences were seen in height (170.5 ± 6.2 vs. 160.7 ± 5.3 cm), BF% (22.5 ± 5.3 vs. 34.2 ± 6.2 %), and LBM (62.3 ± 8 vs. 49.2 ± 8.2 kg) between males and females (P ≤ 0.05). Mean systolic BP was 122 ± 15 mmHg, and diastolic BP was 81 ± 10 mmHg. Mean WC was 90.8 ± 11.4 cm. Other health parameters included mean FBG of 5.1 ± 2.4 mmol/L and mean TC of 4.9 ± 0.7 mmol/L. Significant differences were seen in WHR (0.88 ± 0.04 vs. 0.79 ± 0.06) between males and females (P ≤ 0.05).
A significant number of ECPs presented with cardiovascular and other NCD risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, high WC, elevated FBG, and abnormal levels of TC. This can be attributed to the nature of their occupation such as working irregular shifts leading to sleep deprivation, being exposed to psychological trauma, poor nutrition during shifts, and/or lack of exercise. Stress management is an important part of these workers’ rehabilitation program. A well-formulated employee wellness program is required to set remedial measures in place.
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